Friday, December 24, 2010

Book Review: "An Amish Christmas" by Cynthia Keller

Meg Hobart has everything: a happy marriage to a handsome, successful husband, a beautiful home in Charlotte, North Carolina, and three wonderful children. But it all comes crashing down around her the day she learns that her husband, James, has been living a lie—and has brought the family to financial ruin. Penniless and homeless, the Hobarts pack up what little they still possess and leave behind their golden life for good. But it’s not the material things Meg finds herself mourning. Instead, she misses the certainty that she should remain married to James, who has betrayed her trust so thoughtlessly. Worse, she is suddenly very aware of just how spoiled her children have become. Meg wonders what her family has really sacrificed in their pursuit of the American dream.

A frightening twist of fate forces the Hobarts to take refuge with a kind Amish family in Pennsylvania, where they find themselves in a home with no computers, no cell phones, nothing the children consider fashionable or fun. Her uncooperative brood confined to the Amish world of hard work and tradition, their futures entirely uncertain, Meg fears she can never make her family whole again.

This book would make the perfect Hallmark Christmas movie. Rich family has it all. Rich family loses everything. Now poor family sets out to start new life. Family gets caught in accident. Family is taken in by kindly strangers. Family learns to change their ways. It's a simplistic plot but one that many people enjoy because of it's familiarity and heartwarming plot.

Ok, the Hobart family was just really unbelievable. The entire family was just plain spoiled, all of them. James deceits his family for months and then throughout the entire book NEVER looks for a job himself. Even at the end, with the resolution he is basing his career just on Meg and hoping that she will be able to do enough for his job to work out. I did not like him at all. Meg is a total pushover. I can understand her ignorance in the beginning of the story and then her shock and anger when she does discover the truth. However she doesn't do anything to counter James' actions, she is pretty much just a doormat. I wonder if that has anything to do with her horrid parents and the disgusting way that they treat her. Then their three children are just plain spoiled. Will and Lizzie are rude and spoiled. The youngest son shows all signs of being a hoarder which his mother seems to think is a cute trait of his, never thinking that he might have some issues that need to be discussed.

While I could not stand the Hobart family, on the other hand I really did like the Lutz family , the Amish family that they stayed with. They were an excellent, although a bit stereotypical, example of the type of family that the Hobarts should have attempted to live like. What does make the book stand out is that this is not a faith based Amish novel. While references to the Amish faith is mentioned, there is nothing in this book that encourages or even really discusses any talk about faith at all. It is simply just used a plot device to get the Hobart family to realize that they need to change their ways in order to survive as a family. As it stands, nothing about the Hobarts' own faith is ever mentioned throughout the entire book.

Overall, this was an ok read. It's a predictable yet feel good story for the most part. As I stated, I'm not a fan of the Hobarts at all but I hoped that they learned their lessons and will be able to move on in life as better people. The story is simplistic but not groundbreaking. To be honest, at times I felt as if the Amish characters were simply used because of the recent Amish trend and craze that is going on now. Still it's an interesting read and if you like Christmas stories as well as the Amish, you'll enjoy this book.


An Amish Christmas by Cynthia Keller is published by Ballantine Books (2010)

This ARC was provided by the LibraryThing Early Reviewer program

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